The Creativity Problem

Hello, Internet world!

After a near 3-month absence, I have returned.

Now, I’ve had some pretty long stretches from the blog before. But this barren time-period was a bit different. Normally, when I disappear from The Re-Shelf it’s because life has made posting regular reviews [and by regular, I mean my version of regular] fall lower on the priorities list. And I’ve always been fine by that. One of the reasons I love blogging is because I can do it as frequently as I want/can.

This break was different. It wasn’t a time thing, per se [that’s what told me the spelling of that word is. I’m not sure I believe it.], but a complete lack of knowing what to actually post. For awhile I contemplated dropping the thing altogether. Which immediately made me start thinking about why I was thinking about stopping the blog thing. I like doing it. What brought this on?

I’ve decided – for me – it’s a two-pronged creativity problem.

If you’ve somehow stumbled upon this tiny corner of the ‘Net, there is a pretty good chance you like books. [Or you just want homework answers. One or the other.] And if you like books, and you’re looking at a book blog, you probably are familiar with the other book blogs out there. I certainly am. I gobble up book blogs. [I used to gobble up even more when Google Reader was a beautiful thing that still existed. Le sigh.]

As a frequent reader of book blogs, I can assure you there are many, many amazing book blogs out there. Some are very specific, some are very broad; some are critical, some are generalized. I read a variety of these. And I really have struggled to figure out how this blog even matters compared to those blogs. I’ve never shied away from my incredibly informal – and mostly full of praise – reviewing style. [Otherwise, blogging would feel like a job. And then I would stop without a doubt.] But I’ve also never been convinced of the substance of the posts. Or, at the very least, their substance compared to the other blogs out there. They are SO creative. And awesome. And unique! Mostly, I do blog posts because I want to put my thoughts out there. And if someone happened upon them and liked it – great! If not – I only wasted a little bit of time and I had fun doing it. Incidentally, I’m 97% sure I use my blog more as a reference tool (for my poor memory for which book I’ve read and what I thought) for myself than anyone actually views it. But GoodReads and LIbraryThing can fill that role. And how many book reviews of the same book need to exist on the Internet? I haven’t been sure. And I’ve been struggling because I know there will be far better reviews than mine out there.

This isn’t to say I think there isn’t an audience for the random reviews I do – I think reviews are similar to books: there’s always an audience, even if it’s an audience of one – but that doesn’t make it any easier to sit down and try to turn thoughts into words when you’ve read three pretty great posts/reviews of other books and you can’t figure out how to add anything creative in your posts that will be better in any way. To make your posts/reviews stand apart.

The other front of this Creativity Problem was suffering to be over-creative.

I started taking classes in web design this semester. And I love it. It’s super fun. But each assignment took a lot out of me creativity-wise. Adjusting to my new job responsibilities and adapting them to my way of working sapped ever more. At the end of the day, when work and homework was done, I rarely wanted to create content – I just wanted to consume it [which directly adds more to the first point].

Be lazy. Yes. I don’t care who knows. I wanted to be lazy. Watch TV. Movies. Read books. See shows. Engage, but not overly.

The idea of opening WordPress and type things from my own head seemed awful. To form coherent [even half-coherent, in the case of my normal posts] thoughts about something I’d read seemed EXCRUCIATING.

I would get bursts of creativity, but my classes were introducing me to new ideas (video-making! graphic design! animation! tumblr!) that I wanted to try and I really wanted to comment on other topics (tv shows! movies! broadway! cat videos on YouTube). But then I’d feel guilty about not updating the blog with those creativity bursts, so I’d stop the project. And end up with half projects EVERYWHERE. Which can be super discouraging, to be honest.

So, yeah. I wasn’t really sure what to do. Abandoning the blog seemed like a viable option, but it broke my heart. And I just couldn’t do it. But how could I get my groove back [It is taking every inch of self-control not to add a subtitle of “How Kell Got Her Groove Back” to this post now.] and put in the effort I wanted without feeling like I was going to the dentist every time I logged in?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

– Don’t let the fact this is mostly a book review blog stop me from reviewing, talking about or using it for other reasons. [Which, as I think about it, I’m not sure why I’ve been so strict about this. I always operate under the idea the content of this blog will mostly be seen by, like, four people (this makes my atrocious grammar mistakes and run-on sentences easier to swallow), so why have I cared so much about those four imaginary people’s thoughts on posting a movie review? I have a strict imaginary audience apparently.]

– If I’m not feeling it, I’m not feeling it. This isn’t a bad thing. It also doesn’t mean everything is over. I don’t want to feel guilty about this blog. Ever. Nor do I want it to be a chore.

– Use this space to try new things. If I want to do a video review – make a damn video review. Again, I’m not sure why the Audience I’ve Created In My Head is such a taskmaster that I’ve never allowed myself to think more broadly. Or try things. [This is the advice I’ve already taken. Yay for new graphic design skillz. Stay tuned!]

– It’s okay I’m not creating the wheel every time I post something. There are amazing, awesome bloggers out there [and not just of books, clearly], and I’m very lucky to call some of them my friends and colleagues. I want to be inspired by them, not discouraged. And it’s okay if my thoughts aren’t elaborate. Or they aren’t streamlined. Or whatever. This blog is whatever I’ve created this blog to be. For better, worse or weird. [Mostly weird, I feel.]

So, in sum of this incredibly long post, there might be some changes up at The Re-Shelf. But there might not either. I’m going to see what happens. At the moment, I’m looking forward to serving as a judge on the Cybils panels. [Those reviews, I guarantee.] I’m looking forward to putting up my new banner. [!!!] I’m looking forward to writing about musicals and movies. And adding to the Flyleaf series. [Harder than you would think, sadly.] And maybe trying video. [!?!?!][Next semester’s classes are more video oriented. So we’ll see what happens.]

And that’s the plan. Fingers crossed it’s a good one. Or at least a decent one. Or harebrained. I’d totally go for harebrained.


p.s. As I’m about to hit the publish button, I really, really hope I don’t disappear for, like, a month. That would be typical, huh?


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